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We're no longer accepting applications for this year's program. Details on this page apply to the 2024 round of funding. The next application period opens in 2025.

The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) funds projects that will increase the competitiveness of Minnesota-grown specialty crops in domestic and foreign markets. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines specialty crops as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, floriculture, and processed products that have 50% or more specialty crop content by weight, exclusive of added water. See the USDA's detailed list of eligible specialty crops (PDF) for more information.

basket with colorful vegetables flying out
 

Applicant eligibility

We encourage the following groups to apply for the SCBGP:

  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Producer organizations
  • Government agencies
  • Universities
  • Tribal organizations
  • Other agricultural groups

Projects proposed by individual producers, for-profit businesses, or commercial entities are eligible only if they demonstrate a significant benefit to the broader specialty crop industry.

Project eligibility

Projects must enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops that are grown in Minnesota by:

  • Leveraging efforts to market and promote specialty crops;
  • Assisting producers with research and development relevant to specialty crops;
  • Expanding availability and access to specialty crops; or
  • Addressing local and regional challenges confronting specialty crop producers.

specialty crop is defined by the USDA. This program cannot fund starting a business or expanding a farm. Each project must demonstrate external support from specialty crop stakeholders and produce measurable outcomes for the specialty crop industry or public beneficiaries. Projects that address problems or opportunities that cross state boundaries are eligible.

Visit the USDA SCBGP Awarded Grants page to see previously funded projects in Minnesota and across the country.

Funding priorities

We are seeking projects for our 2024 SCBGP that pertain to the following issues affecting the specialty crop industry:

  • Improving distribution, promotion, and marketing of specialty crops.
  • Increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops.
  • Researching and developing of techniques that focus on pest or disease control.
  • Developing new or improved specialty crop seed or plant varieties.
  • Researching and developing techniques to improve sustainable production of specialty crops and environmental outcomes.
  • Improve capacity of all entities in the specialty crop distribution chain to ensure food safety and comply with food safety standards and requirements.

In addition:

  • Projects that benefit beginning farmers will receive up to two points. A beginning farmer is an individual or entity that has not operated a farm or ranch for more than 10 years and substantially participates in the operation.
  • Projects that benefit emerging farmers will receive up to five points. The USDA tracks projects that benefit underserved farmers as defined in the USDA-Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) 2024 SCBGP Request for Applications (PDF). This definition includes emerging farmers, such as women; veterans; persons with disabilities; American Indian or Alaskan Natives; members of a community of color; young; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, or asexual (LGBTQIA+); or urban farmers.

Starting in Federal Fiscal Year 2022, USDA-AMS grant programs have updated performance measures to better track accomplishments and impacts while reducing the burden on applicants and recipients.

Amounts available

Applicants may request a grant award of at least $20,000 up to a maximum of $125,000 per project that spans up to three years.

Applying

The application period for this grant has ended. We expect the next application period to begin in 2025; check back for updated program materials.

To learn more about the program and start planning for next year, read last year's Minnesota SCBG Request for Proposals (PDF). This grant program is subject to change so you should read the updated RFP when it's posted. You can also view our list of past projects and request a copy of an application to help you prepare. Contact us if you need this information in an alternative format.

2024 SCBG Program Timeline

Step Date
RFP released February 2024
Deadline for questions March 15, 2024, 4 p.m. CT
Applications due to the MDA March 21, 2024, 4 p.m. CT
Grant review process About four weeks
MDA notifies conditionally approved applicants mid-late April 2024
MDA submits state plan to USDA May 2, 2024
USDA approval (anticipated) September 2024
MDA issues approval letters to successful applicants and initiates contracting October 2024
Earliest grant contract start date (project work can start) November 1, 2024
Planned project end date April 30, 2027
Latest project end date upon approved request (expected) September 29, 2027

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